Monday, October 31, 2005

Always the Bridesmaid...

I am getting to that age (an age which I will not, in print, specify) but that age in which friends start getting married and having babies. Some of my friends skipped the getting married part and went straight to the babies; others would like to get married but can't because they don't live in Massacusettes, most of western Europe or Canada; then there are some going for the semi-traditional full-on wedding parade/extravaganza.

Because I do have friends, goood friends, who are doing the whole pomp n'circumstance, wedding thang, I am proud to announce to the citizens of Blogdom that I am going to be a bridesmaid! I only hope I will look half as attractive as the bridesmaid in this random picture I found on google. My bridesmaid's duties have already begun when I was semi-indoctrinated into the secret rituals of the bride this past Thursday. My friend, Shoni, (the bride) and I went to a pre-registration event at the superstore, Bloomingdales, hosted by none other than Vera Wang, wedding dress maker par excellence and Media mogul of all things matrimonial.

First of all, I don't often go into luxury stores like Bloomingdales because I don't want to be reminded, floor by floor, of what a pauper I am. Generally, I think I am relatively happy and don't want for much (the operative word in this sentence being "relatively") but when I entered the gleaming expanse of Bloomies, with it's shiny cosmetic counter and their huge jeans department selling pants for a cool $200 a pair, my mouth started watering like a Dickenisian orphan. I silently start calculating how many paychecks it might take for me to come back to Bloomies and buy jeans that fit my ass like a glove and are branded oh-so-delicately with a giant squiggly line on the pocket. Suddenly, I don't give a shit if the jeans department of Bloomingdales probably has profits higher than most third world country G.N.P's. My ongoing (vocal) critique about the wasteful materialism of our society is completely forgotten as my eyes scan all the amazing looking shit that is for sale in this otherworldly store. Going up the escalator to check out the flatware, I have a bird's eye view of the furniture department and all I know is that I want to belong to the ownership society. I want to own stocks; I want investments; I want to be a shareholder; I want property; I want in.

We make it up to the floor to look at all the goodies the brides and their beloveds can register for, all the while being attended to by the various representatives of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, and, of course, Mistress Vera Wang, all of whom design homeware and whatnot. The representatives look like your atypical New York Power Players: blowdried, board straight hair, stilletos a la Carrie Bradshaw, pants or skirts that show off their carefully sculpted pilatefied bodies, and nails that have been pedicured within an inch of their lives. I can't help wishing I hadn't worn tennis shoes (with holes in them no less) and my backpack, while practical, strikes me as retarded plus, I keep fearing it's going to knockdown a display of Kate Spade Paisley patterned dhina.

Shoni, the bride, is the picture of calm excitement as she lobs softball questions at the designer vulture/merchants who are each trying to sell her either toasting glasses ("these are absolutely essential at any wedding, there's always a toast, the best man toasts, the parents toast, and these toasting glasses are made of sterling silver so when you take a picture of the toast they will look beautiful. People don't realize that toasting glasses are really important") or a platnum wedding cake knife which is also, "absolutely imperative." They are absolutely serious, so serious, in fact, I'd swear they were talking about homeland security and not something to scoop cake onto a plate.

Looking around, I can understand the excitement and the appeal. In fact, I am beginning to feel a lot like Charlie Sheen's character in Wall Street; all that is missing is Michael Douglas whispering "greed is good." I think this has more to do with being in Bloomingdales than it does with being a Bridesmaid. I don't even think Shoni is going to register at dear old Bloomies, thank god, because if I spent any more time at that store I'd turn into a lil' Leona Helmsley. I even contemplated trying to get an MBA or finding a husband that does...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What a Difference a Year Makes.

It's almost the anniversary of your re-election (though many remained convinced that both of your victories are dubious, at best and that is certainly true of the first win. I am less prone to believe the conspiracies about the second because I think you won that through a masterful manipulation of pure fear and bigotry).

Only a year ago, I went to Philadelphia with my 71-year old father to campaign in that mythical Battleground State. The whole election boiled down to the mood of the people in a few land-locked states (and their questionable voting machines). My father, with his barely concealed despair and rage, at what you had done in your four years to the country already. His sheer disbelief that it was even possible that his fellow citizens might conceivably re-elect you. You, who are the opposite of everything my father, the son of immigrants, pitifully poor in his youth, who worked tooth and nail to educate himself, who put himself through school, who joined the foreign service and represented this country for 35 years, and did it all through sheer force of his own will. He could not stomach the thought we might elect you again. You who are the son of wealth, and the beneficiary of cronysism and sophisticated greed. You who never got anything by virtue of your own merit and never seemed to be curious about anything but oil, baseball, and jesus. You, the CEO President. You, Mr. Tough Guy. You, the Paper-Tiger Sheriff brandishing a big stick. You terrified and medicore man. You who should have stayed in Midland, TX, with your pretty wife, and healthy twins, swimming, barbecuing and waiting for the oil revenues to trickle in.

Only a year ago, we stood on a windy street corner in Philly half-heartedly holding beaten up Kerry signs (a man we supported out of total desperation) and got honked at and cheered on and it seemed like the end of this 4-year national nightmare might be near. And my father, joked, that if you won again it might be time to head up north and look at real estate in Montreal. He sounded more like my friends who almost spit with fury saying "I'm fucking moving if he gets re-elected again"then a retiree. Then my father and I parted ways right before election day, I going back to New York and he headed back to his upscale cul-de-sac in Maryland (the spoils of a lifetime of government service). And he told me to "hope for the best" and that "it looked good" but that there would "always be Montreal" in the worst-case scenario.

Only a year ago, I remember getting back to my apartment as the results came trickling in. I chose to spend the night, alone, on the couch, without alchohol which was probably a mistake I realize now, getting phone calls from frantic friends, calling me in panicked disbelief when Florida, legitimately this time, got called for you.

Only a year ago, I was wrestling with the fact that I was living in a country that had just re-elected Darth Vader (Dick Cheney) . I can remember feeling totally defeated picking up the phone to call my dad whose voiced cracked saying that Kerry could still win, Ohio was up in the air and that he had not conceded and I, knowing it was over, cried. My father reiterated that we could always escape to Montreal. I remember I told him the website for Canada had already crashed because of so many hits.

Only a year ago, my inbox was full of emails that kept being circulated, the one that had a map of the United States as two countries: the United States of Canada and Jesus land. There were articles and blog entries detailing vote rigging and the first person accounts of Republicans goons shaking down every black community in Ohio. The anti-red state Southern bias that was spewing out of the my fellow Blue state dwellers; it felt like there was a new Civil war but this time the North was going to lose it.

Only a year ago, you came swaggering out, your face gleaming with new found legitmacy, your administration a weapon of mass gloating, proudly proclaiming that, now, you had "political capital" and you were "going to spend it." Big balls were being planned in your honor and Pat Roberston would be there doing a jig, that radical evangelical swell that had carried you to victory would be sure to cash in on your poltical capital. And then there were the rest of us, nearly traumatized, preparing ourselves to see 50 years worth of progress and protection get ripped up and thrown aside.

A year has passed and look at you now. I bet you think to yourself, after a day of putting out fires, horsely reiterating that you don't want to cut and run as the American death count hits 2000, and your supreme court nominee gets pummelled because even she can't satisfy your reddest, red meat base, and your prized advisor, your architect, your own dear Dirty Trickster looks at an indictment. Are you as shocked as I am at how you've fallen apart? Do you think "I wish I'd stayed in Texas and just raised the twins, gotten another job from one of Dad's friends and stayed the hell out of politics?"

You must think "what a difference a year makes, huh"?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Poetry Night

Last evening after a long day at work, mainly on the internet consuming utterly useless information, I went to a poetry reading organized by a friendly aquintance of mine, Elaine. It's been a long time since I have been a room with other consenting adults listening to other consenting adults reading their poem. It was wierd. I am being honest here, because I am finding that blogging is this wierd marriage of journalling and performing. Plus,I just read this delicious and profound and hilarious play/book by the late Spalding Grey called "Swimming to Cambodia" and his unflagging honesty was fucking brilliant and bold and hilarious. So, I am taking a page from Spalding's book and just saying whatever the hell I want (on the net, that is).

So, poetry night. Have you ever noticed how so much of perception is based on context? I know, I know that is almost pathetically "stating the obvious" but I really noticed it last night. Suddenly, because it was a poetry reading all the men there seemed a little...fey or super crunchy (GRANOLA) ish. They all seemed to be wearing earthtones and I counted a lot of khaki pants and more than a few patagonia jackets. The women all seemed crazy kind of like Sylvia Plath (without the mythology or Ted Hughes or Gwyneth Paltrow movie) I must have looked crazy too. Everyone there seemed to have graduated from the University of Michigan or the University of Wisconsin, Madison and I got the feeling that they all ride bicycles on the weekend and prefer foreign films. It all felt a little...staid.

The poems and the readers (there were two) were fine and, when I wasn't thinking about whether or not I should eat dinner or just skip it and have a big breakfast tomorrow instead, some of the poems were catchy. A lot of modern poetry suffers from what the rest of modern art suffers from: the inability to take the individual experience and make it grander and more universal and more fantastic than just the outpouring of psycho-babble. So, there was a lot of lines about "in our apartment when the sun was shining and burnishing your skin and you were incased in glass. Remember your fathers stripped sweater and pipe which litter the road to the canyon that we looked out onto." One quickly tires of description followed by adjective followed by description: all allusions to the storminess of the writer's childhood or love life. Hardly any of it rhymes either which if I am going to be completely candid, a la Spalding Grey, I have to admit bugs me.

I love poetry though and I wish it weren't relegated to crazy-Aunt-in-the-attic status. When you go into a bookstore, the poetry section is usually banished to a corner like the porno videos at Blockbuster - just out of sight, a dirty little fetish meant only for adults. I was always particularly taken with the Romantics - Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake and their crazy love of nature, and their crazy love of love, and their love of revolutionary enlightnment and their love of enlightning drugs - the rock stars of the 1800's. I wished, at times, last night there could have been shots of absinthe and wild runs between overgrown hedges with poems being recited in between the fields of untamed grass but, uh, there was no absinthe just complimentary shots of Bailey's Irish Cream in Dixie cups and no grass except for the kind being sold outside the nearby soup kitchen on the corner of 40th and 9th.

So, here 's to poetry of the yesteryear: to words more fierce, more dear, more bold, more clear. Here's to you, Mr. Blake, up in heaven, drinking all of God's wine,
Now a ghost still writing poems, wild, whimsical, and, divine.

Laughing Song by William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
When the meadows laugh with lively green,

And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing 'Ha ha he!'
When the painted birds laugh in the shade,

Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of 'Ha ha he!'

Monday, October 17, 2005

The New Yorker's Art and Architecture Issue.

Now, I don't want to hear any snipping about how the New Yorker is actually a middle-brow magazine catering to the petty bourgeousie: it might be but I love it. I think the writing is really, really clean and clear, often, witty and other than their lamentable endorsement of the Iraqi war, which was written by David Remnick but ghostwritten by the American Enterprise Institute, it's a great magazine. Afterall, it has Anthony Lane as their movie critique and he is, in my humble - no one reads my blog- opionion the best person writing about (mass) entertainment/art today.

Last week was the special "Art and Architecture" issue and it was both infuriating and depressing and a reminder of how much bad art (and architecture) clutters the landscape. I am less knowledgeable about architecture than I am about art (and I am dilletante-ish on that, even) so the articles about architecture caused me less consternation than the ones on art and artists. Once piece in the issue that really caused me to clutch my forehead and wag my head was on the artist Rikrit. Let me qoute from the piece (and, no, I promise, this is not a page torn from an old Mike Myers draft of the Sprockets sketch on S'N'L). Here goes:

"Called Untitled 1990 (Pad Thai)." People who came to the opening found Rikrit at a cooking station in a small room adjacent to the main gallery, making pad thai and serving it on plastic plates. Quite a few visitors assumed he was the caterer. According to Randy Alexander, who worked with Paula Allen and had invited Rikrit to show there, "Rikrit's idea was just to leave everything as it was, so the detritus of the opening was the formal work people would see when they came into the space the next day. We had a concern about the olfactory presence of rotting food, but because of the spices he used it never went beyond obnoxious."
Alexander was impressed by Rikrit. "His gestures, his style, his elegance all became part of the piece." he remembers. "But at the same time he had this casual, funny, normal side. I never heard a critical word about him from anyone, and in the art world that was pretty unique." Later that year Alexander started his own gallery, Rikrit was the first artist he showed. For this one , "Unititled 1990 (Blind)," Rikrit offered a voice-activitated tape recorder, a pair of binonculars on the windowsill, and a floor strewn with discarded envelopes containing audiocassettes that Rikrit had recorded, viewers could make use of these items or not. Alexander served Rolling Rock beer at the opening, because he could get it at a discount. "Rikrit liked the bottles," he remembers. "I stacked them up in their original cartons and we made a piece of it."
The effect that Rikrit and his work have on some people is not easily explicable. Gavin Brown, who came in one day, was working then for Lisa Spellman at the increasingly influential 303 Gallery, but he thought of himself as an artist- he had gone to art school in London. Something about the four cases of stacked green bottles pierced his soul. "It irritated me so much!" he remembers. "Beer bottles in their cardboard cases, all empty tops off. It wasn't like a found object - there was so much more to it than that. I could feel this in waves, even though there was almost nothing to it. It was an object that seems to say 'You don't seem to realize how little everything else matters.' I couldn't get it out of my head."

Now you might be wondering who would be rich, bored and misguided enough to, say, buy Rikrit's "art". As if this article wasn't already reading like parody then wait, it gets worse:

"Some of his cooking untensils from the early shows were starting to sell. I wondered how Rikrit felt about that: if the work was suppossed to be about social interation, what did an unwashed wok that he'd bought and used once have to do with it" "I didn't think it through at first", he told me, "but then I realized, yeah, there was a problem. What I do now is ask people to use what they buy. Cook a meal, invite people to eat with you, have your own experience. The value and the meaning are in the use." Eileen Cohen, a collector who began buying Rikrit's work very early, gave a party in her apartment last spring to "reanimate" a cooking piece of Rikrit's she had just acquired. Three handomse stainless steel pots stood on pedestals, over propane stoves, cooking three different kinds of dumplings - mild vegeterian, not-so-mild veal, and highly spiced beef. I also saw a wok from one of Rikrit's first pieces, crusted with ten-year-old shrimp curry, displayed on a shelf in Cohen's library, next to a Hopi ceramic pot."

It is actually hard to know where to begin to pinpoint how many things are wrong and downright laughable about this article and, more to the point, that state of art, in this case, visual art in the 21st century (at least in the western world). First off: this is not art and no amount of rationalizing by the purveyors of taste will convince me otherwise. Yes, it might be a "cool" experience, and a "neat" installation and the artist himself sounds really "nice" and "super cool" and not likely to cut off his ear anytime soon but this is not work that will be remembered by anyone in half-a-century's time; except, maybe the rich offspring of art-collectors from Manhattan.

This article is about how the petty tastes of the individuals, or really the EGO, masquerade as art. Now, Picasso, according to all accounts had an ego like a mad bull but the man was an unbelievable genius (I just recently visited the Picasso Museum in Paris and his body of work left me gob-smacked; the sheer virtuousity that one person was capable of). Picasso's paintings and sculptures do not require instructions or cooking materials and while they speak to his personal experiences (as all art does, right?) they are not just "cool", self-referential, found objects/experiences that are, essentially, meaningless. There is nothing particularly universally meaningful about four cartons of stacked beer bottles with no caps on unless, maybe, you've lived in a frat house or go to a lot of cheap art openings. The Rolling Rock beer bottle installation is not art, it is just an attempt to find meaning where there is none plus, it's skilless, lazy, and, above all, boring. Yes, trash can be beautiful and meaningful, Bob Rauschenberg has an amazing body of work made from bazooka wrappers and car tires but that was thoughtfully put together, stacking up beer bottles after a party is not. Soon this "art" will be thrown away, afterall, Time acts as a great garbage collector.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Cupcakes and the Bourgeousie.

On the weekend for extra dosh I work at a Cafe (which for the purposes of this blog I will call "Cafe" lest I get fired for writing incriminating things) which is a rather lovely place, actually. It is just another one of the small businesses that make New York a great town: a place where, if one has enough capitol, creativity and ambition you, the individual, can own a small, unique, store. Basically, it's not some giant chain, where all the stores look the same from New York to New Dehli (I am thinking, of course, of Starbucks which I don't entirely hate because they give their workers, EVEN part-time workers, healthcare so they are off my conglomerate shit list). At the cafe I work at we don't call the customers "guests" with fixed grins and magic kingodom happy faces and we don't play appropriately hip worldmusic to enhance the consumers intake of coffee and cupcakes (the bedrock of what this cafe sells). We just, you know, sell cupcakes, make coffee drinks, take money, serve people but not in a way that would suggest we are running a quasi-spa and not a cafe.

However, many of our customers don't realize that this is not a spa or that I am not their personal maid service. I posit that customer service is one of the last arenas that Americans feel it is acceptable to exhibit all of their bigotry and it is a great microcosm of the American class system. The only thing that really seperates me and the customer is a glass case with cupcakes but they are on the other side brandishing cash or an American Express black card and with it a huge sense of entitelment and a really ugly air of moneyed superiority. When I open my mouth to speak I get the sneaking suspicion that they are surprised that, well, often I speak better than they do, am wittier, and, yes, probably have a liberal arts degree equal or greater than theirs. It doesn't matter to them though because with cash or plastic in hand, on the other side of the glass incased fence, they have the power. So whatever has been going wrong in their lives, the job they hate or the child they thought they wanted or the pounds they've put on or the loveless appearance oriented marriages they are in, have a sudden outlet.

They can misdirect all of their frustration (read: anger) at the chick behind the counter who hasn't gotten them the right cupcake! "No, I wanted the pink flower", "Why don't you have any more chocolate vanilla", "How much is that?!?" and on, and on, and on. Sometimes, if feels like a hundred Veruca Salts have been let loose and they are all asking me for an Oompa Loompa. Oftentimes, my interactions with the Fat-free Pilates toned Mommy crowd or the Mr. time is money Man turns into a passive agressive exchange that takes on the quality of a Harold Pinter play (random aside: Pinter just won the Nobel - Go Harold!). The simple act of my serving and theri buying a cup of coffee or cupcake becomes a power play fraught with subtext with "that will be $ 2.50" really meaning " that will be $2.50 you cheap, classless, bastard" and "large or small" becomes "large or small you spoiled fatso." Sadly, I am on the losing side, behind the counter, and, until Americans learn that money isn't a liscense to treat others like identured servants, than serving will continue to be an exercise in sadism.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

On being friends with Republicans.

I am close to two people, yes, only two, because I don't necessarily count my grandmother or my boss as friends, who voted for Bush in the last election (or, the Stephen King title might be..."The day the map turned blood red"). These are two people who's company I, genuinely, enjoy and find charming, two people who I think are, essentially, good people, nice people, worthwhile, smart and caring people who I keep in touch with and email and see occassionally for a beer and invite to my shows and to parties at my home, people I share anecdotes with about my life and their lives, in short, two people who are friends of mine.

I try not to talk about politics with these two Republican friends of mine but, inevitably, the conversation drifts to the (my) latest outrage of the Bush admininstration, and the whole corrupt bunch up there on Capitol Hill oiling and sleazing there way around the legislature. So, despite my best attempts to talk about work or their (occassionally) my significant others, the latest series on H.B.O. and the merits of microbrews, what books or movies we've digested lately ivariably we end up talking about what I so strenously had tried to avoid talking about, namely, Iraq and the whole stinky Republican agenda.

Now, I, on the one hand, hate talking about politics, specifically, Iraq, with these two, rather nice, Republican neo-con friends of mine because it saddens and frustrates me. It saddens me because to my core, to the edges of my toes and my fingers, in my bones and deep in the wellspring of my soul, I believe this war is a goddamn disgrace . Everytime, I read about our endeavors there, of the car bombs exploding, and the marketplaces marred by suicide bombers, of the children needlessly dying, and the leveling of Falluja and countless other Iraqi towns, of the incepient civil war, the secterian strife, and of our own leaders who blindly insist, like broken records, that we are making progress I feel a deep and burning and helpless sense of shame. Shame that I am, through my tax dollars supporting the Pentagon war machine churning without end and that there is really, and truly, short of evading the I.R.S, nothing I can do about it.

My two Republican friends of mine, strongly support this war, and believe it to be just and, more specifically, necessary to the future of the world, I supposse, and to the safety and health of these United States. We huff and puff at one another, each side, trading memorized facts ("there were no WMDS", "Yes, there were or we haven't found them", "What about the yellowcake?", "They found the yellowcake", "Occupation in post-war Japan wasn't easy either", "You cannot compare Iraq to Japan post-World War II", "They took us to war on a lie", "Everyone, including the Democrats believed the intelligence", "We either fight them there or here", "What the hell are you talking about? Iraq had NO terrorirsts before this war", "Saddam was a brutal and evil dictator", "There are a lot of brutal dictators in the world", "Read this article in the Nation", "Read this article in the Weekly Standard" and on and on ad nauseum) but no one leaves the conversation with their worldview changed in the least. Truth be told, there is even a slight thrill in having a real live Republican to vent my digust to who isn't a blood relative but...that thrill quickly loses it's appeal after the 6th feckless conversation.

Instead, I leave the debate, a little angry and disturbed that they see the world so differently than I do and that there is almost nothing, nothing, I can do to change these Republican, neo-con friends minds and, I am sure, they feel likewise. I wonder how to proceed with this relationship and if there is a future but I remember that I like these two friends of mine. I would be lying if I said I don't sometimes scratch my head and wonder if it might not be better to adhere to that old saying "never talk about money, religion or politics" and that's easy enough to do these days because all three are virtually interchangeable, right?

Maybe I'll ask these two Republican friends of mine.

Mind-Boggling Tragedy.

This is when it becomes obvious how paltry(?) or meagre language is...when you have to grapple or deal with tragedy. I am speaking about, of course, the mega-diasesters, Katrina and, now, the earthquake to hit South East Asia. I don't even know how you begin to fathom or put into words the realization that with a single, cataclysmic, shake, thirty thousand people perish under houses and rubble (this is the estimated number of people they think died in Pakistan and Kashmir and India this past weekend). I don't think you can grapple it, really, unless it is happenning to you or around you, unless you are forced. You watch it on television or read about it on yahoo news and the awfulness of it flickers in your mind and then you move on to the far more paltable update on Paris Hilton's broken engagement.

Hmm, why am I choosing to write about such depressing stuff? Honestly, because, well, I think I am fresh out of inspiration so massive tragedy seemed like the next best thing to write on. Alright, that was incredibly callous and this is exactly what I mean about not being able to really deal with tragedy and maybe even more today, in our information saturated brains, than ever.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Forgetting You.

Have you ever been to H&M on a Saturday afternoon when a busload of tourists from Ohio has just been let loose in its environs? Shrieks of pleasure being emitted from every corner over how “cute” and “adorable” and, most importantly, how “cheap” it all is?!? Yes, you can snarl and feel superior to tourists from Ohio (a state for which I am hard-pressed post-election ‘04 to have much sympathy for) but the fact’re there too. You are at H&M pawing, and, mauling your way through the cheap shit, too. Your eyes scanning the sheer tops that would look so cute with those black pants you have or the chunky brown belt that would dangle oh-so-alluringly over that flowing white skirt you bought last week completing your vision of boho-city-chic.

The music soothingly pumping out and numbing any worries over whether you should, in fact, really charge this “made in tawain/romania/turkey/latvia/estonia/or the perennial favorite: china” crochet tank top. In the midst of picking and choosing, making your way through elbows and arms and coos of “oh that looks good” you forget about whatever was bothering you earlier that day: the recent break up, the fact that you miss him, the energy its taking not to call him, the job that demeans and drains you, the realization that your parents are, now, senior citizens, the knowledge that this world you inhabit is just getting uglier and more complicated and that the leaders in charge of safeguarding it are too craven and ill-equipped to lead it, all of it fades into the background when you are trying to decide between floral or leopard print.

After you’ve picked out your six items you take your place with the rest of the seething masses, standing behind the gum chewing teenager in her jeans a la Britney and her eager to please Mother (who is trying to give her daughter everything that was denied to her in her own adolescence). Like Catholics taking the eucharist (or the “wafer” as my own mother called it) you inch your way to the fitting room - one step at a time. Finally, after shifting from leg to leg and glaring at the tourists from Ohio you get a fitting room; a small mirrored sanctuary where you can model those chosen wares for your own discerning eye.

The world falls away and all that’s left is you, the mirror, and the decision over what looks better/sexier/more sophisticated/the most flattering/the most desirable on you, on your body. The blinkers are finally on and you have a goal - the rest of your worries are just white noise. Now, isn’t this what you came here for? To H&M on a Saturday? Admit it: you came here because it’s an oasis, you came here to forget, you came here for a little peace.

Arrested Development

Ladies: be wary of any man who, past the age of 18, tells you their favorite book is "Catcher in the Rye". This, in no uncertain terms, is a blazing, blarring, impossible to ignore, RED flag and you can be rest assurred that this is a guy who is lost in a state of perpetual adolescence.

Yes, we all loved Holden Caufield, that Upper West Side "Igby goes down" underdog. Holden Caufield, literature's favorite fuck-up, the rich kid with a heart of gold who can't quite get it together. The kid who gets kicked out of every boarding school forever disappointing his lock-jawed, well heeled, New Yorker parents. And, yes, how can you not love a teenage boy protaganist who counts his kid sister, Phoebe, among his most prized and beloved confidants? I loved the book too...when I was fifteen.

But, guys, it's time to move on. You are not Holden Caufield anymore or even remotely in his age range and to continue to identify with a confused teenager and hold that book on a pedestal speaks, transparently, to your own inability to, well, grow up.

I bet you can't commit to anything but mixed cd's.

So buck up and get yourself down to the Strand. Commit to finding a new favorite book and, yes, I'll let you off the hook: you can choose a Fitzgerald or a Hemingway as potential replacements. Or, even, Nick Hornby will be allowed. I'd say check out Johnathan Franzen too. Get ready to kiss Holden Caufield and "Catcher in the Rye" goodbye because it's time to put away childish things. Get ready to scrub the use of the word "phony" from your vocabulary.

Sure, you'll miss Holden and his lovable mistakes but missing people and things, objects, and places is part of growing up (which devotees of this book should know). Afterall, Holden learns that growing up is all about letting go (read the last paragraph of the book - tear stained no doubt as you pack it up, heeding my advice, knowing it's time to become, well, a man and finally graduate from high school). Believe me: acting your age can be liberating. And, don't take offense: what if you dated a chick who told you her favorite book was still "Forever" or "Are you there God, it's me Margaret?